Family: Son’s possible involvement ‘amplifies horror’ of couple’s disappearance

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek

PORTAGE, Mich. (WOOD) — Like investigators, Gary Johnson’s brother hopes he and his wife will be found alive but has a horrible feeling they won’t.

“I first heard about this Wednesday morning and there was very little doubt in my mind at that point that this is where it’s going,” David Johnson told News 8 Thursday. “You hope for the best and plan for the worst and my gut says the worst is what’s coming.”

His brother Gary Johnson and sister-in-law Laura Johnson have been missing since last week. When police went to the couple’s home on Romence Road in Portage Tuesday, they say they found “signs of violence,” though they wouldn’t clarify what exactly those signs were. Two days later, police still can’t find a reasonable explanation for where the pair may be.

“Although we’re going to remain optimistic that we’re going to find … the Johnsons, we’re leaning more toward this is going to be a homicide,” Portage Department of Public Safety Chief Nicholas Armold said. “Hopefully we’re wrong, but that’s where we’re leading.”

Gary and Laura Johnson’s son Nick Johnson has been arrested on unrelated weapons charges. Police are treating him as a person of interest in his parents’ disappearance. He was previously charged with an assault that happened at their home, though he pleaded down to a breaking and entering charge.

“Even at preschool age, he was exhibiting behavior problems,” David Johnson said of his nephew. “They just continued to escalate.”

He said upon learning his brother was missing, his first thought was about his nephew.

“First thing that came to my mind was, ‘Nick, what did you do?'” he recalled.

“My heart goes out to him,” he added. “At the very best, he’s lost or losing his parents. And that’s a hard thing in any case. If he is involved, even doubly so because that has to be horrible.”

David Johnson, who lives out of state, described his brother and sister-in-law as “two perfectly lovely people,” who first met in elementary school but didn’t get serious until graduating from Loy Norrix High School together in 1974.

“They’ve known each other since third, fourth grade,” David Johnson said.

He said it would only make a terrible thing worse if their son is proven to have been responsible for their disappearance.

“If it does come out that Nick is involved, that amplifies the horror, I will say that much,” he said. “And for Nick, too, ’cause if that is the case, who knows what demons are riding him right now?”

Anyone with information about the Johnsons is asked to call the Portage Department of Public Safety at 269.329.4567 or Silent Observer at 269.343.2100.

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